Conflict Management: Helping Your Employees Work Things Out

Conflicts are an indivisible part of any given society, especially in modern corporate realities. When your workforce is diverse (social, economic status, gender, ethnicity, even political views), conflicts tend to happen quite often and it’s your responsibility as a boss to help them work through things.

Understanding the Nature of Conflicts

No one really likes conflicts, but avoiding them won’t get you anything. In fact, if you just “calm things down” and suppress emotions, it might break out later, much stronger than now. So, the first thing you should understand is that any conflict needs resolution.

Then, you have to analyze the situation. Maybe your conflict is actually made up of tiny little things. Remember that being emotional yourself, letting your anger out will only add fire to a conflict, so rather try to remind yourself that people are trying to solve a problem and acting in their best intention.

When you’re ready with all of that and you’re sure that you are calm about the situation, you can start helping your employees resolve it.

Tips to Help Your Employees Deal with Conflicts

• Talk to them in private.
The first thing you should do to help your employees is to listen to them. Wait, just listen. Don’t comment on their words or actions, don’t shame them, don’t remind that they were aggressive. Let everyone share their feelings, true feelings with you. All that negativity, hurt, shame, aggressiveness should be let out before anything else could be done.
• Make sure they are done.
This is a really important step: ask them if there is anything else, maybe there is something else involved. If your employee is dealing with family issues or loss right now, gently ask them if they think any of their hurt from that experience might be kicking in. Who knows, maybe they are dealing with financial stuff and being aggressive or prone to conflict because of that.
• Talk yourself.
Don’t screw this step by proving them wrong or saying: “I thought so”. Rather, try to share your perspective. Make it impersonal (not cold-hearted, but don’t lean to an opponent’s side), and remind your employee that another person probably never wanted to hurt them in the first place. It’s really important to inspire them now, reminding them that the company values their skills and professionality.
• Tell the facts.
If you see that the moment is right, let your employee know how the situation looks from another perspective. A warning here, this will not work if your employee is still all wired up and angry. Emotions are not the best helpers in conflicts, but if you see that a person is calming down, talk to them sincerely.
• Learn how to move on.
Another really important thing is to know how to move on. Not forget what happened, no, you have to keep in mind that your people are dealing with some issues, maybe there is something personal involved. As you know, the best bosses are familiar with people’s issues and they know when to give their employees some slack (dealing with loss, financial troubles, sickness). But you have to learn not to remind people of their fights and let go of bad emotions yourself.
• Don’t choose sides.
There is one sure way to lose respect and support of your employees: it’s to choose sides. Don’t ever say that one side in a conflict is right. Quick tip, to make it possible forget the words “agree” and “disagree”. Rather, learn to understand people. Those who have the high levels of empathy will be more successful in helping their people to solve conflicts.
Remember that conflicts always happen and they are a part of life, as much as living peacefully is. Also, remind yourself that if your people quarrel and fight, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, though it might signalize that there is an issue that needs to be solved as soon as possible.

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